Nepal battles raging wildfires across the country

Firefighters and local residents battled a massive wildfire on the outskirts of Nepal’s capital Thursday as the Himalayan republic endures a severe fire season authorities have blamed on a heat wave.

Nepal sees a spate of wildfires annually, usually beginning in March, but their number and intensity has worsened in recent years, with climate change leading to drier winters.

More than 4,500 wildfires have been reported this year across the country, nearly double compared to last year according to government data but less than the worst fire season on record in 2021.

“Wildfires have increased in an unimaginable ratio, and the season is expected to last for a month more,” Sundar Prasad Sharma of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority told AFP.

“It is challenging to put out fires because of our difficult terrain,” he added.

Environment ministry spokesman Badri Raj Dhungana said the increase in the number of wildfires this year was because of a lengthy drought and heat wave conditions in Nepal’s southern plains.